The magazine's noted food critic Andrew Knowlton crunches the numbers:
Let's get this out of the way: Eating at Saison, Joshua Skenes's 32-seat stunner, is expensive. Very expensive. Figure $248 for the prix fixe (the only option), and $148 more for the wine pairing, which you should get. You'll also want a few cocktails at the bar first. Six hours later, your table of two will have spent around $1,018.25. At least, that's what it cost me. And here's the real shocker: It was worth it.
Well, yes, it's worth it. Spending upward of $1,000 on football tickets is horrifying; spending that kind of money on a meal is not. You don't see ESPN or Deadspin fretting over orchestra seat prices at a Dolphins-Knicks (we have no idea) game, do you? Why bring it up?
Anyway, now that the subject of money is up... dinner will set you back a touch, yes. Which is fine, of course, if you can swing it. (There's a McDonald's across the street if you just can't deal.) Bon Appétit goes on to explain in great detail why, in part, Saison charges customers so much: a custom buildout for Saison's kitchen and dining room ($2,800,000); firewood/charcoal ($700/week); Natalie Bowen Designs flowers ($800/week), overhead, which includes rent, occupancy costs, and utilities ($24,000/month); food costs, where "luxe ingredients like this live scallop push food expenses to almost 50 percent--way above the industry target of 33 percent" ( $15,000 week); aging room for proteins ($40,000), delightful fish tanks ($15,000), farmland in Marin for herbs and greens ($136,000/year); and custom-made Original Timber walnut dining room tables ($8,500).
Your SFist editor has only sat at the bar, sipped carefully, and used the toilet. Others, however, have been lucky enough to rave. Take, for example, SFist's 49ers beat reporter Daisy Barringer, who, after dining at Saison over the weekend, tells us: "I cried tears of joy after my first bite of truffle risotto. Literally. Impeccable service, thoughtful but not pretentious dishes, and definitely don't skip the wine pairing. Even though, as a result, the end of the meal gets a little fuzzy."
Also of note, the online imagery of Saison's many fans:
Bon Appétit awarded first place to Alama in Los Angeles, whose chef, Ari Taymor, grew up in Palo Alto "on a steady suburban diet of Food Network (he was partial to Good Eats and Iron Chef) and Taco Bell." (In other words, our hero.) Alma follows another California first place win in 2012, when State Bird Provisions took the top spot.